Seeing greatness in people and organizations, and activating that potential is ultimately the communications profession’s mission. However, the models that previously energized brands’ and organizations’ potential in the past are not the models that resonate in a generation that has born witness to a cataclysmic shift from control to influence.
It is no longer an era where consumers and stakeholders are told what to believe or buy. Instead, they engage in a journey and a path to discovery. The truth: consumers don’t buy from you until they buy into you. Out of that surround is the emergence of and respect for strategic communications — initiatives that influence engagement, patronage and loyalty toward activating business results.
The Four Questions
It all starts with the right questions. We find that four simple questions can elevate the conversation from tactics that can derail marketing strategy and, instead, set forth a more thoughtful approach to solutions:
- What does your organization do or stand for?
- What does success look like?
- What are the three lowest hanging fruit opportunities to achieve that success?
- What are the three biggest barriers to achieve that success?
The answers to these questions can serve as a catalyst to direct marketing communications efforts and dollars to the areas that will most benefit the business.
Value = Benefit/Cost * Friction
At the heart of effective communications is a “Content Value Exchange” approach in which content-based experiences deliver innate value to stakeholders and compel them to exchange their information, engagement, patronage and loyalty.
As content marketing has become a fallback position for marketers, the relevance, inspiration and benefit of content should be the driving factor. Ask yourself this question, “if we stopped publishing, would anyone care?” Content that causes cost and friction with little benefit is a pricey endeavor.
Wag The Dog
The social media team is doing stuff. The PR firm is doing stuff. The ad agency is doing stuff. It’s a lot of stuff. The proverbial tail is wagging the dog. In many cases, the distributors of marketing communications are driving the campaigns. To break down the silos and optimize marketing dollars, brands need to streamline the work around the creation and extraction of content, the packaging of content and the distribution and promotion of content, what we call “Content Process Optimization”.
PR: Now Appearing as “Publishing & Relationships”
Creating valuable content experiences or “publishing” is the engine, but relationships are the fuel. An organization’s ecosystem of influencers should be mapped, monitored and engaged. Influence is expansive and grows with each YouTube video, blog post and podcast. Knowing who stakeholders are, what they care about, why they act and how to connect is a competitive advantage.
Outcomes, Not Outputs
It’s the last mile, impact analysis. Gut is good, but data is what should drive decisions and directions. Establishing metrics on the front-end provides the north star that should guide all efforts, with regular check-ins to ensure we remain on track and deliver the outcomes that move the business forward.
In today’s rapidly evolving environment, a marketing communications department should have a designated “innovation fund”, a small percentage of its budget that is measured and evaluated, but not held to the standards and the scrutiny of the tried and true initiatives. Exploring what’s next is not a luxury; it’s an imperative.
This philosophy shapes the way we approach strategic communications solutions for our clients to fully activate their potential. The world of marketing communications consistently evolves, and the fundamental truths—at least our version—that we have set forth on this page have stood the test of time and served our clients well.
But, we never rest. We expect more of ourselves, so we explore and challenge the status quo, and boldly activate the opportunities that can only be ignited by thoughtfully orchestrated strategic communications.